Inspired to help thru education

Inspired to help with education

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Greta Carroll has seen the need for resilient producing systems

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COMMITTED: Greta Carroll believes permaculture offers a way of thinking and being in the world that is different to mainstream agriculture. PHOTO: Lara Arnott

COMMITTED: Greta Carroll believes permaculture offers a way of thinking and being in the world that is different to mainstream agriculture. PHOTO: Lara Arnott

Growing up on the Western Australian coast in the Fremantle and Margaret River in a family which held very strong environmental ethics and practices set Greta Carroll's feet on the path to becoming as director on the board for Permaculture Australia.

Greta went to Melbourne for university before moving to the Middle East while completing a master of International Public Health.

Living in Jordan and working for an non-government organisation (NGO), Greta conducted humanitarian research in the Syrian conflict; collecting and analysing information on civilian needs, mapping displacement patterns and damaged public infrastructure for agencies providing aid.

This work offered her an understanding of how much of what support was needed where and when, to create more effective humanitarian programming.

Greta returned to Australia in 2017, and after a much needed break, began living in a permaculture community in the Noosa hinterland.

it was here that she completed her first permaculture design course (PDC).

"I felt deeply that the suffering of millions of Syrians I had witnessed could have been reduced if they had more agency over localised, community-managed, resilient systems," Greta said.

"While the total systemic breakdown in Syria was my personal catalyst to question the fragility of the systems our society relies on, I think the impact of COVID-19 on our food, transport and economic systems is also a perfect example that most people in Australia can now relate to."

Greta returned to the humanitarian world for a year after that, working in Australia and parts of the Pacific, before she met her mentor Rowe Morrow.

"My life changed rapidly, I was supported by Rowe and Robyn Francis to develop my content and teaching methods," Greta said.

"I joined Rowe to teach with her through Permaculture for Refugees and Robyn to teach at Permaculture College Australia.

"Since then, I've spent the last two years living and working on permaculture farms and running courses.

"For me permaculture, a design science, is important because its ethical foundation sees that we are constantly connected to, and considering, that which is around us and that which we rely on.

"It is a modern iteration of how First Nations Indigenous folk have always known existence.

"We must recognise that the ways in which our society interacts with the rest of the ecosystem it depends on is destructive and self-sabotaging and permaculture offers a way of thinking and being in the world that is different.

"It can serve all communities, because it is applicable to every aspect of our lives and society.

"While others are drawn to different parts of permaculture, personally, I love facilitating the learning journey, and witnessing people connect the dots of inter-relatedness.

"The inspiring part about education is that you don't know which seeds might germinate in the minds of learners, and how they might approach their communities through a permaculture lens."

Greta and her partner have recently moved from the Northern Rivers of NSW to manage a small-scale regenerative farm on the surf-coast of Victoria called The Common Ground Project.

They have 0.6 of a hectare (one and a half acres) under production where they are implementing an approach to market gardening that blends with agroforestry.

"At Common Ground Project we run paid training for asylum seekers and provide meals for people facing food insecurity in the Geelong regional area, however we're going to be expanding that offering soon, we're just getting started," Greta said.

Greta believes women are already integral to the success of agriculture, but do not get the attention of their male counterparts.

"Women already play an important role in agriculture, even if we're not lead to believe that through the mainstream narrative in our country," she said.

"There's been a huge shift in recent times towards seeing more women in agriculture, and I think the more of us who step out of the prescriptive roles we've been pigeon-holed into, the more role models there are.

"I think greater representation at all levels is important though, from primary production right through to research and policy making.

"I think most of the problems we see today in the way this land is treated come from a deeply ingrained approach to the control and commodification of nature.

"The conversation would benefit from addressing greater diversity in general, not just women, and especially not just white women such as myself."

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